Airport Extension Threatens Rare Moths

Sussex Emerald

Dungeness on the Kent coast is one of the jewels in the crown of the UK’s natural heritage and a key site for rare moths and other invertebrates.

But this rare shingle habitat has found itself under a new threat.

The Government’s decision to give the go-ahead for the expansion of Lydd Airport in the area is one of those decisions that leaves me aghast and dismayed.

The move means that the existing small airport will be expanded to take up to 500,000 passenger per-year and be able to take Boeing 737 charter flights.

This decision could in theory open the door for further expansion down the line. And what about the existing infrastructure around that part of Kent?

There will almost certainly be further future knock-on effects. The airport’s location next to one of the most important sites for Lepidoptera, including populations of the Sussex Emerald, White Spot and Pigmy Footman, not to mention the wealth of other scarce invertebrates, make this a thoroughly unsatisfactory and myopic decision.

As a country we may be clinging on to our Standard and Poor’s AAA credit rating, but will we ever get one for nature conservation, one that appropriately values this country’s natural heritage and takes this into consideration for future generations. It is worth reminding everyone that a large area of vegetated shingle was lost to a marina near Eastbourne, Sussex, in the not too distant past; we should not be gambling with that at Dungeness.

Mark Parsons
Head of Moth Conservation